Reality TV

The Voice Australia’s Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy talk auditions, ageing and staying grounded

'It's good to change'.
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Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy are two of Australia’s music superstars. They both got their start as standout talents on the early seasons of Australian Idol, and both went on to a string of chart-topping albums – and Eurovision – before taking up roles as coaches on The Voice Australia.

As a new season of The Voice begins, TV WEEK sat down with Guy, 41, and Jess, 33, handed them a list of questions and asked them to interview each other. Once Guy got comfy (“I’ve just jumped in my trackies – the jeans were too tight”), they were good to go.

They two of Australia’s music superstars!

(Image: Supplied)

Guy: All right. Jess Mulb…

Jess: Mulberry?!

Guy: Jess Mauboy, thank you for joining us today. Let me ask you: do you remember the first time you saw me sing on Australian Idol?

Jess: I sure do, Guy. I do remember that amazing performance, and that final.

Guy: Were you Team Nollsy [his rival and eventual runner-up Shannon Noll] or…?

Jess: I was neutral at the time, but pretty much leaning towards you, because that’s who I identified with, vocally.

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Guy: Well, I remember hearing you for the first time. My reaction when I heard you audition was, “What is wrong with these judges? How are they not freaking out? They’ve just heard the best singer in this country.” If we had a singer like you audition on The Voice, we’d be slamming buttons, carrying on like pork chops…

Jess: When I look back at it, I didn’t really understand the full impact, in the moment.

Guy: Well, it changed both our lives, that’s for sure.

Jess: Guy, what are your memories of us meeting for the first time?

Guy: When did we meet the first time?

Jess: It would have been a Sony event. I remember what I was wearing – it was freezing. I was this 16 or 17-year-old meeting you and I didn’t have any words. I just remember giggling. I was like, “Oh my gosh – this is the greatest singer standing in front of me.” I felt like an idiot, because nothing was coming out.

“I really admire the way you put together your words.”

(Image: Supplied)

Guy: I would have gone on about your voice.

Jess: Yeah, so supportive.

Guy: Do you think I’ve aged much over the years? No… It says, “Do you think I’ve changed much over the years?”

Jess: Well, to answer that first question, absolutely not – I think you’ve gone back in time.

Guy: I don’t know about that – I’m getting these things here now… what are they called? Crow’s feet? And I’m an Adelaide Crows supporter, so I’m happy to have crow’s feet. The “changed” thing is funny, because for some reason, if you’re a public person, when people say, “Oh, they’ve changed”, it’s always in a negative light. But we all change; I think it’s good to change. It’s good to get stronger. I can’t speak for you, but I’ve been really naive in the past. I needed to click into just being an adult and facing things better.

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Jess: I think you’re definitely the same person in terms of your character, your personality, your warmth… You’ve always been seriously funny, and there’s never a moment where you’re not joking.

Guy: But it’s crazy. After winning Idol or becoming a public person, you don’t wake up different. It’s not like you feel different to other people, and yet other people view you differently. It’s such a headspin.

Jess: It’s funny, hey? OK, I’m going to ask you a question now. This is a serious one: which song of mine do you wish you could have recorded?

Guy: “Little Things” – I’ve always been obsessed with that song.

Jess: Do you have a favourite song of yours?

Guy: My two faves, I think, are, “Before I Go”…

Jess (singing): “You’ll know my name before I go…” Yo! OK, that’s the song I would record.

Guy with his wife, Jules.

(Image: Supplied)

Guy: You know, I get sick of songs. You sing songs over and over again – I’ve been doing it for 20 years – and you do get tired of certain songs. But I never get tired of singing “Battle Scars”.

Jess: Yep, that’s dope [great], that song.

Guy: Do you feel that there’s anything you’ve learnt from me?

Jess: Yes…

Guy: She’s racking her brain…

Jess: Watching you be a coach on The Voice, you do it so well. I really admire the way you put together your words. It beautifully paints a whole picture. We all feel like that. I look at Rita [Ora] and Jason [Derulo] and then I’m like, “This guy!”

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Guy: Oh, get out of here! Your consistency is amazing. You’re so consistently kind. I love how connected you are to your people and how grounded you stay.

Jess: Thank you!

Guy: I feel like this is just compliment hour! But I’ve enjoyed it. If we don’t build each other up…

Jess: …who’s going to?

Guy: It’s genuine, and I feel it’s been like that since I’ve been on The Voice. Keith [Urban, the singing star who’s stepped down as a coach on The Voice] and Rita and obviously Jess, but then having Jason step in… everyone just genuinely loves each other. And I’m honest. I’ve been on [judging] panels and in work situations where not everyone gets along or you feel like there’s this weird energy and it just doesn’t work – I don’t enjoy it. [But] I genuinely look forward to being with these guys.

Jess: Yeah – even after the cameras have been turned off, we’re still standing there talking to each other, and everyone’s like, “We’ve got to go. It’s home time!”

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